Pakistan

South Asia earthquake: Children in need of medical care

UNICEF Image
© Reuters/Masood
A child sits on his father's lap as they wait to be sent to a hospital by helicopter in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, on 10 October 2005.

By Maya Dollarhide

NEW YORK, 10 October 2005 – The massive South Asia earthquake of 8 October killed tens of thousands and damaged or destroyed homes, schools, medical centres and mosques. It also caused severe injuries to thousands of others, including children, who are in desperate need of medical treatment.

Children make up half the population of the affected areas and are particularly vulnerable.

In Pakistan, UNICEF is working with partners to treat the casualties of one the worst natural disasters the country has seen in over a century. At the District Headquarters Hospital in Mansehra, UNICEF reports that there are hundreds of survivors coming daily into the hospital for medical care.

"People are pouring into Mansehra," said UNICEF Health Officer Dr. Tamur Mueenuddin. "There are lot of people with crushed bones and blunt trauma. Taking care of these people is the first thing we have to deal with."

"Houses have fallen on children, and there are reports that schools have may have fallen on students. We are looking at a lot of orthopaedic injuries. We are also seeing wounds that will need to be treated, [because] if they are treated improperly infection could set in."

UNICEF Image
© Reuters/Hussein
In Balakot, Pakistan on 9 October 2005, a man carries his injured daughter. In addition to Pakistan, India and Afghanistan were affected by the quake.

Essential supplies for survival

Dr. Mueenuddin reported that the Pakistan Army has been airlifting up to 200 people a day to the hospital to be treated for injury; others have been arriving by their own transport or on foot. Helicopters have been the only way of reaching villages and towns rendered otherwise inaccessible due to road damage and mudslides caused by the earthquake.

The destruction of homes has rendered thousands of children and families homeless. As the nights grow colder, survival for many will depend on the arrival of supplies including tents, blankets, food, warm clothing nutritional supplements and water purifying materials.

UNICEF is moving additional staff into Pakistan and has been delivering supplies via helicopter. "We know the importance of getting shelter and warmth to these peoples," said Dr. Mueenuddin. "Right now the weather here has been not too hot or too cold, but if it rains, without shelter and blankets, these people are going to be in trouble."

UNICEF Image
© Reuters/Hussein
The body of a school child lies at the scene of a rescue area in Balakot. Rescuers searched frantically in the rubble of flattened towns and villages.

Missing children

It is still unknown how many children may have been orphaned or separated from family members during the earthquake. Reuniting lost children with their families is a priority for UNICEF.

"There are a lot of children who lost their families, and a lot of families who have lost their children," said Dr. Mueenuddin. "Tomorrow we will start addressing some of the civil issues of getting children and their parents back together, and establishing schools to help children start to rebuild a normal life."


 

 

Video


10 October 2005:
Dan Toole, Director of UNICEF's Office of Emergency Programmes, talks about the response to the earthquake.

Low | High bandwidth
(Real player)

Journalists:
Broadcast-quality
video on demand
from The Newsmarket

Audio

10 October 2005:
UNICEF Health Officer Dr. Tamur Mueenuddin describes the situation for children and their families in Mansehra, Pakistan and the surrounding villages after the earthquake.
New enhanced search